Sussex v Warwickshire, Hove, 3rd day May 3, 2013

Dougie Brown berates Hove wicket


Sussex 416 for 7 (Wells 96, Brown 82*, Rankin 3-60) trail Warwickshire 453 by 37 runs

Warwickshire's coach Dougie Brown has pinned the blame firmly on the Hove pitch for a hard-fought game which seems to be heading inexorably towards stalemate.

"For people who maybe don't quite understand the game, they're probably wondering why we're bleating on about the pitch and stuff but in fairness is that a first-class pitch?" Brpwn asked "I would doubt it to be honest. We always thought the pitch would at some stage deteriorate. That might be at some time next month."

"It just killed the game completely. There's nothing in there for anybody, batters included. Speaking to our batters it's actually almost impossible to get the ball off the square. How you're ever going to get a result on surfaces like this I just do not know, particularly when you use a heavy roller as well and deaden it even further.

"I just feel sorry for the people who've come to watch two very, very strong sides playing. What's happened is the conditions haven't really allowed for entertaining cricket.

"It'd be a bit like, in football terms, going out to watch some of the best teams playing and playing on grass that was a foot long. You can't apply your skills like you could do on any normal occasion so that's been disappointing. I don't know about docking points or whatever, that's not for me to say."

And it was hard to argue with Brown's assessment at the end of another day that, despite the high calibre of players on display, seldom rose above the turgid. It was just as well that the beer festival brought over 20 different ales - more than the 17 wickets to fall so far - to enjoy.

The only bowler to rise above the conditions was Boyd Rankin. While Chris Wright displayed perseverance, and Chris Woakes parsimony, Rankin was comfortably the most threatening of Warwickshire's quick bowlers and deserved more than the three wickets he snared.

During one over in the morning session, he might have had a hat-trick. Luke Wells was denied a century by a yorker that made a wreckage of the stumps he protects with such care; Matt Prior was beaten for pace and could have fallen lbw first ball; and Ed Joyce was dropped by Tim Ambrose from a legside bouncer.

Rankin retired from Ireland duty last year and has declared his ambition to try and pursue a Test career with England. That must be considered very unlikely - he is nearly 29 and has a bad record with injuries (he was here returning from ten weeks out with a stress reaction in his foot) - but when he bowls with the hostility and searing bounce he showed here, it doesn't seem inconceivable that England could show interest in Rankin as a reserve, tall impact quick bowler, behind Steven Finn and Chris Tremlett.

Brown certainly thinks it is possible: "Obviously going out to Australia, the conditions out there would suit him immensely. He's a big tall lad - 6ft 8in - he bowls very fast, he bowls aggressively and when he's on form there's very few bounce bowlers in world cricket better than him."

Rankin can do subtlety too, varying his angle by switching between over and around the wicket and using his yorker as an occasional weapon of destruction, as Wells could attest to.

After his early morning spell, it fell to Matt Prior to awaken spectators from their happy slumbers in the deckchairs. Three crunching drives off four Wright deliveries oozed purpose, but Wright soon had Prior caught by his friend and onetime Sussex colleague Tim Ambrose to a ball that moved late. And, to judge by the quality with which Ben Brown cut the ball in his unbeaten 82, another Sussex wicket keeper could one day also interest the ECB.

For now, their attentions are better turned to the merits of reinstating the heavy roller - a measure designed to mimic Test match conditions but one that risks undermining the pleasures of picturesque county grounds like Hove.

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Carl on May 4, 2013, 16:26 GMT

    @Ed Seabourne, yes lets all defend a pitch that ruins the entertainment part of a sport who needs fans at a game. Look how well supported the longer form of the game does in the Sub-con where flat pitches are the norm.

    The majority of flat pitches are down to the wrong preperation and if the groundsman isn't up to making something a bit spicer he's in the wrong job. I suspect they seen Warwicks attack and decided to make it as flat as possible for fear of being taken apart by the best seam attack in the country.

    ECB should stop the grants counties get if they can't produce decent pitches, that's one way to cut down on the number of counties.

  • Dummy4 on May 4, 2013, 13:35 GMT

    The pitch at last weeks Taunton game wasn't the reason that Warwickshire got a draw. They batted for 144 overs and the last pair held out for more than 20 overs. Also being the current champions and being hard to beat might also have something to do with it.

  • Jackie on May 4, 2013, 11:20 GMT

    Apparently this is a very old pitch which is due for renewal. Quite why Sussex have opted to play on it is another matter.

  • NIall on May 4, 2013, 9:42 GMT

    @Robster Are we going to dig up the oval where nothing other than a high scoring draw was ever going to happen, or as Ed says Taunton. Flat pitches are a part of the game, and bowlers need to learn to keep at it on them, just as batsmen need to learn to cope with variable bounce and wearing pitches. Sadly I don't think either Warks or Sussex's bowlers have been good enough in tough conditions.

  • Dummy4 on May 4, 2013, 9:03 GMT

    A wicket like this everday of every match would kill cricket,its as simple as that

  • Adam on May 4, 2013, 4:53 GMT

    I see Hamilton-Brown really took advantage - oh. The average just keeps on dropping.

  • Rob on May 4, 2013, 1:29 GMT

    A truly terrible wicket. No good at all for cricket. Dig it up.

  • Dummy4 on May 3, 2013, 20:54 GMT

    So Dougie, that's what it feels like to draw games because you're bowling attack's not good enough on a flat surface - we at Somerset have had to put up with that for years, get over it. In any case it's not the opposition coach's place to criticise the pitch, especially with the warm dry weather we've been having, it's quite hard not to prepare batsman friendly wickets. There seems to be a lot of coaches being very vocal at the moment about one thing or another, in my view that's the director of cricket's job. The coach's job is to coach.

  • Dummy4 on May 3, 2013, 19:20 GMT

    Reading SamuelH's comment, he clearly didn't see any of the game from Taunton last week, where the pitch did start to deteriorate and turn to some extent towards the end of the game. As it was, the Warwickshire batsmen applied themselves and performed admirably to hold out against some fine bowling.

  • Dummy4 on May 3, 2013, 19:19 GMT

    Yes Samuel,did you see that game last week where a good 6 or 7 bad umpiring decisions went against the bears,and also Trescothick didnt walk after an obvious edge.Brown is spot on we dont want that sort of wicket,and he is not just talking from a Warwickshire point of view if you read the article

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